As a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), you would teach English to people whose first or main language is not English.
You could work in places such as commercial language schools and language centres throughout the UK and overseas. Your students may need to learn English to:
- help with their work
- improve their conversational English
- get into college or university in an English-speaking country
- prepare for an exam.
Your work would include:
- preparing and delivering language lessons and activities
- producing resources
- setting and marking tests and exercises
- being involved in social and cultural activities like sports, social events, and trips to other towns and cities.
You could specialise in teaching English for particular areas such as business.
Note: Teaching English as a Foreign Language is widely known as TEFL. The term TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is often used to mean the same thing as TEFL, but is also used for teaching English to people whose first language is not English, but who are living in the UK.
ESOL teachers teach students a level of English which will allow them to fit into everyday life. See the Skills for Life Teacher profile for information on this.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
You will need an excellent standard of English. Some employers will expect you to have a degree. This does not need to be in any particular subject, but English, linguistics, modern foreign languages and education can be useful.
As a starting point, you could gain experience as a language assistant. See the Language AssistantsÂ page of the British Council website for details.
- British Council – Language Assistants
You may not need a TEFL qualification for all teaching jobs. However, a qualification will:
- give you the skills you need to teach effectively
- improve your chances of finding work
- make a difference to your pay.
The most commonly accepted minimum TEFL qualifications are:
- CELTA (Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults)
- CertTESOL (Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Both courses include observed teaching practice, and you can study full- or part-time at centres all over the world. Distance learning courses are also available, but you will need to arrange your own teaching practice if you choose to do one of these.
To be accepted on a course, you will usually need to be aged at least 18 (20 in some cases), and have at least two A levels or equivalent qualifications. See the University of Cambridge and Trinity College websites for details of courses and lists of course providers.
What further training and development can I do?
When you have EFL teaching experience, you can develop your skills with further qualifications, including:
- DELTA (Cambridge Diploma in Language Teaching to Adults)
- LTCL Diploma TESOL (Trinity Licentiate Diploma in TESOL).
For these qualifications, you will usually need to have a TEFL certificate, and at least two years’ EFL teaching experience.
You can also complete the following qualifications for working with children:
- Cambridge CELTYL (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners)
- Trinity College Cert TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners)
- SKOLA Trinity Young Learners Extension course (STYLE).
See the University of Cambridge and Trinity College websites for details.
You could also complete an MA in TEFL or TESOL, for which you usually need a first degree. This could be useful if you want to move into management.